Picnicking outside at lunch is becoming less than enjoyable. The formerly sunny spot in front of the theatre lobby has transformed into a cold air tunnel, funneling unfortunate chills over our crisscrossed knees and forcing the casual eating atmosphere into a calamity.
No more veggies are springing from the garden, school has hit its overwhelming rhythm and some lady frowned at me the other day for wearing white (I had no idea the whole white after Labor Day was such a big deal).
So besides having to find a warm place to enjoy the luncheon hour, I have also had to turn towards the microwave. Its power to bring me the warms of home through bubbling soups and stews is a grand one but who has time to slow cook stew when they’ve got homework to do? The struggle with the falling of autumn (teehee, fall-autumn, get it?) comes not in the food itself but the fact that everything one makes takes FOREVER to cook and tend to need time in order to develop flavor…or so I thought.
I give you Chana Masala: my new comfort food. The warmth of turmeric, chilies, and ginger simply embraces my soul as my mind curls up in the caramelized onion, steaming tomato, chickpeas, squash and eggplant…What more does one need to satisfy themselves after slogging through homework, classes and their irritations? So, because I’m in a rush this week, here is only one recipe but the dish that has kept me happy to thrive in these hectic times.
Chana Masala Makes 2- 3 servings (depending on your veggies)
· ¼- ½ onion
· 1 tbl diced fresh ginger
· 1 small squash, (summer or winter) ½ inch diced
· 1 very small eggplant, ½ inch diced (optional)
· 1 glove garlic (optional)
· 1 tsp garlic chili paste
· 3 tbl cumin seed
· 1 tbl turmeric (more or less depending)
· 1 16-oz can chickpeas, rinsed
· 1 16-oz can of diced no salt added tomatoes
· Salt to taste
(optional garnishes include lemon juice and cilantro)(other vegetable options include carrots, sweet potatoes, normal potatoes, peas, spinach leaves etc)
Begin by sautéing the onion until caramelized (on a medium heat adding water to deglaze the pan every once in a while). Once the onion is no longer opaque, add the ginger and the diced vegetables. Stew until squash in completely cooked through.
Add the garlic, cumin, and turmeric. Toast these briefly. Add chickpeas and tomatoes.
Bring the masala back to a simmer on medium-low heat and leave it on the stove melding for however long you want (up to an hour).
If adding peas or spinach add this right before serving, should only take a minute for these to cook through.
And enjoy! It keeps in the fridge for up to a week and is super awesome for school lunches.